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Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor

Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor
© Greg Nash

Republican Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinBiden funding decision inflames debate over textbooks for Palestinian refugees Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor Ambitious House lawmakers look for promotions MORE announced his bid for New York governor on Thursday, becoming the first GOP candidate to officially launch a challenge against embattled Democratic incumbent Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoPolice reforms are a minefield, even in progressive communities New York City's suicide mission should alarm the entire nation New York's wealthy could face 51.8 percent tax rate: report MORE.

"So, after talking to New Yorkers who feel like this is a last stand, a last great opportunity to save New York, and the fact that to save our state, Andrew Cuomo's got to go — I'm announcing here this morning on your show that I'm running for governor of New York in 2022 and we are going to win this race,” Zeldin said on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends.”

When asked what sparked his decision to make a gubernatorial bid, Zeldin cited the ongoing scandals involving Cuomo, including his handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes and reports of preferential COVID-19 testing treatment granted to his family, in addition to the income tax rate in the state.

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New York Attorney General Letitia James is also leading an investigation into Cuomo over accusations of sexual misconduct, and the governor faces an impeachment inquiry which was brought on by the state assembly last month.

Zeldin added that “people are fleeing” the state due to tax rates and argued that income taxes have to be lowered.

“They want to stay — their family is here — but they can't afford to, so they're heading down south. On so many different levels it's the quality of life, it's the cost of living. And I love this state. I'm still here, you're still here. We need to turn it around,” Zeldin said.

“People are going to flee every single day until we do,” he added.

Zeldin, who has represented his Long Island district in the House since 2015, became a close ally of former President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE and was a fierce defender of the former president during both impeachment trials.

In a tweet announcing the bid, Zeldin said he will bring a “relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state.”

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“I'll bring the kind of relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state that Cuomo reserves for multi-million dollar self-congratulatory book deals, cover-ups, abuse & self-dealing,” Zeldin wrote on Twitter.

“With 1-party Dem rule in NYC & Albany, the light that was a beacon of what America can be has gone dark. The NY once a magnet for the world’s best & brightest is now forcing its own to leave under the weight of crushing taxes, lost jobs, suffocating regulations, & rising crime,” Zeldin added.

He also wrote that he is “ready to go all in on this mission and bring New York back from the brink and return it to glory.”

Zeldin is likely to square off in the Republican primary against Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGaetz hires legal counsel amid DOJ probe Georgia lieutenant governor: Giuliani election claims helped lead to new voting law Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor MORE who is also a former staffer for then-President Trump. On Wednesday, Andrew Giuliani said that he intends to run for governor in 2022.

“I plan to run,” Andrew Giuliani told the Washington Examiner. He added that he thought he stood a good chance of unseating a “wounded" Cuomo.

Giuliani told the Examiner that he plans to officially launch his campaign later this month after a meeting with the New York State Republican Committee. He also said that Trump has been advising him, though he noted to the paper that the former president has yet to declare which candidate he’ll support.

--Updated at 9:22 a.m.